“Maybe when it comes to sisters, boundaries are always a little bit blurry. Blurred boundaries, I think, are what sisters do best.”
Rose and Fern Castle are the twenty-eight year old fraternal twins of a single mother. When the girls were twelve two traumatic incidents saw them put into foster care.
Rose Castle – is separated from her husband and works as an interior designer. She is the higher functioning of the two girls. She suffered psychological abuse from her mother and always took care of her sister Fern.
Fern Castle – works in a public library, is very intelligent, but is on the spectrum and exhibits most of the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome. She has always been under the thumb of her sister Rose. She remembers her childhood much differently than Rose does…
“People without sisters think it’s all sunshine and lollipops or all blood and guts. But actually it’s always both. Sunshine and guts. Lollipops and blood. Good and bad. The bad is as essential to the relationship as the good.”
What a fantastic read! And how clever! All the while, the reader wonders just which of the Castle sisters is in fact ‘the good sister‘.
We must remember that each of the girls have different recollections of the same events. Whose is correct? Each sister displayed good and bad traits and their characters were complex and multi-layered. Is their sisterly relationship supportive and caring, or, is it manipulative and devious?
I’ll confess, I never really bonded with Rose despite the fact that she seemed caring and protective of Fern. Though being privy to her diaries made me sympathetic to her life and situation, I still had a feeling of unease about her.
I found myself loving Fern. Sure she was bizarre in many ways – but she was so genuine. Hyper-sensitive to sensory stimulus, socially inept, resistant to change, unable to maintain eye contact, and very literally minded, she nonetheless captured my heart. I also came to care for her boyfriend ‘Wally’ aka Rocco who understood and loved Fern for who she was.
This was an expertly written thriller that will doubtless make my list of Top Reads for 2021. A skilled character study masquerading as a thriller. Brilliant!
.Sally Hepworth is the New York Times bestselling author of six novels, most recently The Good Sister (2021), which was an instant bestseller. Her novel, Mother In Law (2019) has been optioned for a TV series by Hollywood actress and producer, Amy Poehler.
Drawing on the good, the bad and the downright odd of human behaviour, Sally writes incisively about family, relationships and identity. Her domestic thriller novels are laced with quirky humour, sass and a darkly charming tone.
Sally’s novels are available worldwide in English and have been translated into 20 languages.
Sally lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children.
Follow Sally Hepworth on Twitter @SallyHepworth